At ProActive Dental Studio, we perform root canal procedures when the interior pulp of a tooth has become damaged or infected.
What is a root canal?
Underneath your tooth's enamel, within the dentin, is an area of soft tissue called the pulp.
The pulp carries the tooth's nerves, veins, arteries and lymph vessels. Root canals are very small, thin divisions that branch off from the top pulp chamber down to the tip of the root. A tooth has at least one, and up to four, root canals (and sometimes more).
Why do I feel pain in my tooth?
When the pulp becomes infected due to a deep cavity, a fracture that allows bacteria to seep in, or injury due to trauma, it can die.
Damaged or dead pulp causes increased blood flow and cellular activity, and pressure cannot be relieved from inside the tooth.
Symptoms of tooth pulp damage are typically indicated by pain in the tooth; commonly felt when biting down, chewing on it and applying hot or cold foods and drinks – however those symptoms need to be confirmed by an x-ray.
Why do I need a root canal procedure or therapy?
Without treatment, the infection will spread, since the tooth will not heal by itself. The bone around the tooth will begin to degenerate, and the tooth may fall out. The pain will worsen until one is forced to seek emergency dental attention.
The only alternative is usually extraction of the tooth, which can cause surrounding teeth to shift, resulting in a bad bite.
Although an extraction is cheaper, the space left behind will require an implant or a bridge, which can be more expensive than a root canal procedure or therapy. If you have a choice between a root canal vs extraction, it's always best to keep your original teeth.
What is involved in root canal therapy?
Once we perform tests on the tooth and recommend therapy, we will perform the treatment or refer you to an endodontist (a pulp specialist) if necessary.
Treatment usually involves one appointment. First, you will probably be given a local anesthetic to numb the area. A rubber sheet is then placed around the tooth to isolate it.
Next, the pulp chamber which, along with any infected root canal, is cleaned of all diseased pulp and reshaped. Medication may be inserted into the area to fight bacteria.
Depending on the condition of the tooth, the crown may then be sealed temporarily to guard against recontamination, or the tooth may be left open to drain, or we may go right ahead and fill the canals. The pulp chamber and canal(s) are then filled with rubber-like material to prevent re-contamination.
If the tooth is still weak, a post may be inserted above the canal filling to reinforce it. Once filled, the area is permanently sealed. Finally, a gold or porcelain crown is placed over the tooth to strengthen its structure and improve appearance.
What are the risks and complications?
More than 95 percent of root canal procedures are successful.
However, sometimes a tooth needs to be redone due to diseased canal offshoots or the fracturing of canal filing instrument used (both of which rarely occur).
Occasionally, a root canal therapy will fail altogether, marked by a return of pain.
What happens after root canal treatment?
Natural tissue inflammation may cause discomfort for a few days, which can be controlled by an over-the-counter analgesic. A follow-up exam can monitor tissue healing.
From this point on, brush and floss regularly, avoid chewing hard foods on the treated tooth, and see your dentist regularly.
What is the cost of a root canal?
The cost of a root canal varies, depending on how many canals are in the tooth, and where the tooth is located in the mouth.
Most insurance companies consider root canal therapy a "basic" procedure; however, some insurance companies (e.g., PBC) will not cover "difficult access" root canals.
The patient is responsible for the difference between an "easy access" and a "difficult access" root canal.